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Quantitative Trading Analyst Shows His Cards

This past spring, 253 DRW employees from around the globe, (including 8 offices!) participated in qualifying poker tournaments to win the top spot, which included an entry into the 2023 World Series of Poker in Vegas.

Quantitative Trading Analyst Henry made DRW proud finishing in 236th place out of over 10K+ entrants! We sat down with Henry to hear about his tournament experience and learn how he applies his poker mindset in his role as a Quantitative Trading Analyst.

What has your experience with poker been to date? Was this your biggest event you attended?

I learned the rules in high school, played $0.01/$0.02 cash games in my first summer of college for ~400 hours with friends ($2 buy-in games, the biggest winner ended up cashing out $20 over the 400 hours!), and a brief hiatus until joining DRW. I dabbled a bit with online poker after starting at DRW but was not a winning player. This was definitely the largest poker event I've ever been to!

What did you do to prepare for this event?

A couple DRW famous players (including my manager) gave me invaluable advice in preparation.

First of all, they recommended that I watch some coaching videos online, I invested heavily because I thought it could be fun and bought a course from Run It Once called "Pads on Pads – Perfecting Analysis, Decisions & Strategy" for "intermediate players", watched one video, then backed out and bought the beginner friendly course ($149, from "From The Ground Up Multi-Table Tournaments") instead and just opted to study the easier course.

Secondly, my manager suggested I play some practice large tournaments that would have similar formats to the main event. The largest tournament I had played before this was the online 200 person DRW tourney. My first couple online had over 1000 entrants with a buy-in of $11. I played roughly 10-20 tournaments or so a week after winning my seat to Vegas and before I went to WSOP. I reviewed pre-flop ranges with GTO Wizard, and saved hand histories that I thought were interesting for later review.

Finally, the later review consisted of me typing out my hands to my colleagues and asking for feedback. Their insight taught me a lot and introduced me to concepts that I definitely didn't grasp correctly.

Tell us a bit about what it was like:

The WSOP main event started on 7/3/2023. I busted on 7/11/2023. I played a total of 4.5 days; each full day was around 13 hours of poker (from noon until 1 am Vegas time) which initially was very exhausting considering it was 3 pm until 4 am NYC time.

Almost every table I sat down at I was able to meet some nice, fun, and interesting people. Alexandre (DRW NA's first place winner), Christos (DRW Europe's winner), and Joel (who had been teaching me) all attended the main event. At breaks, I caught up with them to review hands and de-stress.

When I sat down on day 1, I was too nervous and was making poker death stares into everyone's eyes at my table. I remember thinking I was staring down a player who I thought was a pro who had raised large on the river, only to find out later on they had won a satellite just like me, I was intimidating the wrong person!

On day 2 about an hour in an Australian man sat down to my right who I found out won second place last year, only for him to run out of chips only a few hours later.

On day 3 I sat down to the right of Chance Kornuth, currently considered one of the best live tournament players in the scene right now. My PL against him was something like -200BB over the course of the day. However, I ran like fire and won 2 all-in flips where I was 30% to win the hand versus my opponents 70%, and won both (against the same opponent) with the same hand both times to send them home.

On day 4 I ended up getting selected for the outer feature table since the chip leader Nicholas Rigby had sat down at my table. We got media questionnaires and were mic'ed up for a couple hours after dinner. It was a really fun experience though the other players at my table seemed more annoyed than excited compared to me. Joel busted towards the end of day 4, and after that, my breaks became a lot lonelier.

Finally, I busted in the middle of day 5 to another opponent sucking out against me. I had pocket TT and the player on the button raised, and I shoved my remaining 20BB in and got called my pocket 88. This is a 82/18 flip in favor of TT. The turn came an 8, and my main event story ended there.

Do you think there are skills used in the game of poker that help you as a Quantitative Trading Analyst?

Absolutely. As I learn more about poker, the more I think working towards being a better poker player feels similar to working on a trading desk. The most important similarity to me is mindset. Of course, you are happy when you make big scores in trading and in poker, but when you lose pots, you aren't results oriented, you are more concerned about whether or not you did the best job you could. As long as your decision-making process is logical and sound, the actual results aren't important. Trust in the process!

Who is someone you look up to in the game of poker?

In high school/college I really looked up to Daniel Negreanu, but as I've learned more about the game, I've shifted my focus from those who read opponents well to those who can very clearly articulate their thought-process through a hand or position. Especially those who I play with at DRW, since everyone has a growth mindset related to poker.

If I had to concretely name one player, I would have to say Chance Kornuth. I didn't know him before this year's main event, but sitting next to him for 13 hours made me so impressed with his game, either he's amazing or he literally just runs so good and has it every time. He's also a class-act and was great to play with.

If you could play a game of poker against anyone in the world, who would be seated at your table?

Instead of choosing celebrities, I'd choose my college friends that I played ~400 hours of poker with over that summer. Getting so many people together who have all since moved to various parts of the world is hard, and I had a ton of fun playing with them even if the results didn't matter at all.